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LAGOS, Nigeria, September 9, 2014/– Civil society actors, governments, donor agencies and other significant stakeholders will be meeting on the 3rd of December in Lagos at the 14th Annual Conference of the Nigeria Network of NGOs under the title: CSO Legitimacy, Transparency and Accountability: The role of government and civil society.
The gathering provides a platform to expand knowledge of civil society organizations and governments on CSO regulations, best practices and innovations in order to spark a healthy debate on improving the regulatory environment for Nigerian CSOs. The 2014 edition of the Conference is set against the backdrop of recent happenings in the country as it relates to civil society regulation and different Bills in the National Assembly seeking to regulate the work of Nigerian NGOs.
In April and June 2014, two Bills (Foreign Contributions Bill and NGO Regulatory Agency Bill) were read on the floor of the National Assembly, with both Bills seeking to regulate the work of NGOs. The Bills as conceived remain a threat to the work of NGOs and the wider civil society community. “The 14th Annual Conference is taking place at a critical time in the history of our work as the National Assembly seeks to regulate how Nigerian NGOs receive and utilize funds including how to coordinate and monitor NGOs,” said Oyebisi Babatunde Oluseyi, Executive Director, Nigeria Network of NGOs (www.nnngo.org ). “Beyond the Bills there has been an increased call for NGO transparency and accountability by various stakeholders, we believe that by bringing together state and non state actors, we can help foster new approaches that will help ensure a truly accountable 3rd sector in Nigeria.”
In the last 3 years, issues of accountability and transparency amongst the NGO sector have received national and global attention, defining the way in which NGOs are perceived and treated. While the accountability of NGOs are non-negotiable there has been a continuous rush by governments to regulate or over regulate the work of NGOs one that has led to a trend that is threatening the environment within which civil society organizations go about their businesses.
Certainly there are opportunities and threats as the call for NGO accountability increases. The 14th Annual Conference will provide a valuable network-building opportunity and a unique opportunity to exchange ideas, experiences and engage NGOs, policy makers, government agencies in charge of NGO regulations, diverse experts, and organizations on best practices and innovations for regulating the work of NGOs.
The 2012 Annual Conference of the Network was about reviewing past relationships and partnerships with government/private sector, present and future opportunities. In 2013, the Conference highlighted effective ways in which civil society organizations in partnership with other actors (government, donors and the private sector) can evolve alternative sources of funding for development under the theme: “Evolving with our Sector: Finding Alternatives to Funding our Work”. In 2014, the theme for the Annual Conference is improving the regulatory environment for CSOs in Nigeria.